Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Our Tali Beach Family Vacation

I come from a family of 5 siblings. When we plan for a getaway, we plan it way in advance because there are so many calendars to consult. Our lives take off in all different directions, making it harder for us to take big trips together. There's work for the adults, and for the kids naman their summer vacation schedule is also not the same.

This trip towards the end of our summer break was planned months ahead. We reserved the Independence Day long-weekend for a short out of town trip to Tali Beach in Batangas.
My brother and his wife are not included in this photo as they had to return home to Manila 
ahead for work commitments.

We stayed in Windward House, which is located in an exclusive village in Tali Beach, Nasugbu Batangas. It is a truly picturesque place, as you can see from the photos below.

It has 5 rooms, 4 of which are usable when you rent the place out. The Master suite on the top floor is reserved for the exclusive use of the homeowners. There's a big family room at the basement of the main house which has 4 queen beds and a sofa bed. It's divided into two rooms by a bookshelf and a sliding door. The family room has one bathroom. There are 2 detached casitas, each equipped with an ensuite bathroom, 1 queen bed and 1 day bed.

the stunning facade of Windward House that matches its seaside location



A House Tour
I loved staying in the main living area which also doubles as the lanai. Let me take you on a tour muna around Windward House so you can see for yourself that it truly is a beautiful place.

The main house on the right is connected to 2 separate casitas on the left. The caretakers said that the owners built the casitas so that visiting family and guests are also able to enjoy the same level of privacy and comfort.


The walkway connecting the 2 casitas to the main house.

We paid a total of P64,000 to rent Winward House for two nights. P32,000 per night,  a bit higher than the regular weekend rate being that it was a holiday, Independence Day. Ordinary weekend rate is P30,000. In addition to that, we also paid a service fee of P1,000 per day to the caretakers of house. The house came with 2 staff who can help with cooking and cleaning up.

While it was unfortunate that it was rainy during our visit, we still tried our best to make the most out of it because it's really seldom that we are able to plan a weekend with all of us siblings available. The layout of the house made it easy for casual and relaxed family bonding.

The open-plan living, cooking and dining area enables easy interaction among family members at all times while offering unobstructed views of the landscape.

The wooden floors, concrete walls and warmth from the teakwood slats create a modern Asian look.

When they said that Windward revolves around the kitchen, they were not kidding.

There's a main kitchen which we used when we did our own cooking and a back kitchen when we decided to  have the caretakers cook simple Filipino homestyle meals. The kitchen comes with the whole kaboodle: oven, refrigerator, outdoor BBQ grill, teppan stove-top grill, etc. Pots and pans and an abundance of serving plates, too. It's like I never even left the #TPMkitchen.



The infinity pool is perfect for families with members of varying ages. There is a shallow part for younger kids, a wading pool in the middle for novice swimmers, and a deeper part towards the other end.



Our Experience
C and I spent our afternoons lounging lazily in the lanai while watching the kids swim.

This also serves as the area where the kids have some snacks and drinks in between playing


and where the adults enjoyed their digestifs.




The kids are such troopers as well. They just enjoyed the pool since the beach was off-limits because of the strong waves. My kids wanted to go cliff diving pa naman sana.





Meal prep is a whole family affair as all the girls and some of the boys would gather around. The girls took over the prepping and cooking while the boys would help around shooing all the flies away.
I don't know why, but the place had an extra-ordinary number of flies. And they were everywhere too, the lanai, the dining room, the kitchen. As soon as we were done cooking, we had to cover everything as the flies would take over. 

I am not talking about 5 flies flying here or even 10. I'm talking about a a big could of flies! I'm not an expert on pest-control, but we've stayed in resorts and other beach houses to know that the fly problem in Windward House is out of control. I am realistic enough to know that we live in the tropics and flies are everywhere, but not in this number.                             

It made mealtime very stressful for me, especially since I'm used to a clean working space at home. It's annoying how they would land on the food, or on my hand, or to hear them buzz by my ear. Panira sa chillax mode!

meal prep for breakfast




When it was too dark to swim in the pool, we kept busy indoors. It's a good thing we brought a lot of board games kaya even if the rough waves did not let us enjoy the beach, we had a lot of fun pa din naman indoors.
Boardgames from The Game Detective




We requested for the projector to be set up inside the dining room so we can all enjoy a movie at night. 


Everyone went to bed around midnight na after playing board games and watching a movie.

Windward claims that they can comfortably accommodate 14 guest up to a maximum capacity of 18. We are a total of 15, but even then I would not say our sleeping conditions were comfortable. Personally, I suggest a maximum of  2 small families or a max of 6 persons for the most comfortable stay in the 2 casitas.

My sister (with her husband and 2 kids)  and my family of 5 shared the family room on the lower floor. As I've mentioned earlier, it had 4 double beds and a sofa bed; and was divided into 2 rooms by a bookshelf. Each room had its own split-type aircon. So in theory, we should be fine, right? But in reality, the beds were not so comfortable.

It starts here! I woke up in the middle of the night when I felt something crawling on my face. Instinctively, I put my hand on my cheek and I felt a hard-shelled insect. Waaah! I screamed and shrieked, and woke my husband up. He flicked it off me and threw it on the floor. Sorry na po, I had to make sure he smashed it because I do not want my wake-up alarm to be an insect on my face! Huhuhu! He left the lifeless insect on the floor and told me he'll clean it up first thing when he wakes up in the morning.

After that incident, I drifted in and out of sleep. At the crack of dawn, when I opened my eyes, I saw this giant spider directly on top of our bed. Parang Amazon adventure na ito! Humongous, like the size of my hands. It wasn't like the usual house spider that is thin and long. This one was chunky and BIG! It was crawling on its way to the drop-down border around the perimeter of the recessed ceiling. Waaaah1 I cannot! Did I say that it was about the same size as my hand! Huhuhu!

Even if it was just 6am, I couldn't and didn't want to go back to sleep anymore.  I thought to myself that since I was too creeped out, might as well just head up and prepare breakfast. I got out of bed and put on my slipper, and I saw a short line of giant ants carrying the dead insect away, you know the one that was crawling on my cheek earlier. Nghhhh!

When I went up to the kitchen, I saw my parents and sisters with their own horrorific stories to tell. The ensuite bathroom in my parent's casita was leaking in several areas. Puddles formed at the entrance to the bathroom that my mom had to accompany my 70 plus year old dad everytime he went in for fear that he might slip. There was also a leak right above the toilet, so everytime they sit down to do their business, it seems like there was an automatic bidet spraying on their heads. Haaaays! And when they finally wanted to leave their room, what do you know? The room won't open from the inside. They had to wait for one of us to wake up to ask for help na pagbuksan sila ng pinto from the outside. I think it's just the wood expanding from the change in weather. They wooden door must've absorbed a lot of moisture from the surrounding area.


The casitas are each equipped with an ensuite bathroom, 1 queen bed and 1 day bed. 

The day bed is actually 2 single seaters placed together. It would've been very uncomfortable for a tall person to get a good night's rest because of the division in the cushion, as you can see above


On the right is the main house where the kitchen and dining area are located, right behind the lanai. 

On our second night, no one could make me stay in the lower deck bedroom. It was a good thing that my brother and his wife had to go back to Manila to attend to work commitments so I took over their room with my 2 girls and my niece. Nagsiksikan kami sa kama because we were all too scared to sleep another night in a super-sized bug-infested room. It was an uneventful night for all of us. Everyone as able to sleep soundly.

The next day, when I went to the main house to prepare breakfast, I was surprised to find my husband, my sister and her husband all up already.  They have been up since 4 am. My husband woke up with this really bad stench. It smelled so bad daw that he really couldn't go back to sleep. He decided to get up and investigate, and he saw the entire bathroom flooded with sewage backflow. The water was black, which means it's super dirty, and is sure to carry a wide variety of bacteria and other pathogens. The bathroom was completely unusable and the smell was sickening. 


*     *     *

Living in the Philippines, a tropical country, I know bugs are an inevitable part of our lives. More so since one of the appealing features of Windward is that it boasts of an open layout, and doors are left open for most part of the day. Bugs are free to come and go as they please. I can understand, and can tolerate upto a certain extent, that they are present in the open living, dining and kitchen areas.

However, I feel like the bedroom is a closed sanctuary, it's a place where you're supposed to be the most comfortable, unguarded and relaxed. I definitely do not want a huge spider sharing a space in my bedroom.

Add to that, we've stayed in similar-priced facilities with open layouts, and we did not encounter problem with pests/insects.

Then there's also the incident with the sewage back-up in the downstairs toilet. You have to understand that when it comes from the sewage, there are pathogens in the water already and exposure to it can lead to sickness.

Even though my family was able to enjoy and bond during our stay, I will not re-book again. We wrote the homeowners and let them know of the current state of their property during the rainy season. I think it's important to inform the owners right away so they can do something about the maintenance of the facility and also treat with appropriate pest control. They did reply back with an apology and an offer to make it up with a complimentary stay. But of course, we politely declined, and asked for a partial refund instead.

If you have a more tolerant attitude on spiders and flies, insects in general, then you will find the place still very charming. It's a really beautiful house. The place is built to maximize bonding and time with the people most special to you. You will have a lot of fun with your family.

I would recommend that if you decide to book the property, learn from us and do not book during the onset of rainy season so you will not experience the sewage back-up problem. Admittedly there was an extra-ordinary amount of rainfall the time we were there.       

No matter, I will still treasure the lovely time with my siblings and our families at Windward House. I am sure when we look back at it someday, it will be done only with the fondest of memories.








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